Now it’s getting into the origins of the rebellion and prophecy. Shen Wu, the rebel that killed Na Sha’s partner, had a chance to kill Na Sha, but restored some of her energy instead and basically told her–while she was unconscious–that she didn’t know who her real enemy was. So, are we talking about a traitor in the imperial court or something bigger than all of them?
I am still confused about their powers; they’re too vague. I am enjoying the story, overall, so this vagueness isn’t ruining it, but they use them all the time and this is the third volume and it’s really no more apparent than it was in volume one. When reading something that falls under supernatural or fantasy, once you understand the world the story is set in and once you understand what the powers are, you start to set expectations for how things should play out. I can’t do that here and it’s frustrating because it’s like a whole layer of the story is, not so much missing, but it’s not pulling its own weight. If this was primarily a BL with supernatural elements, I could probably let this slide, but it is quite the opposite.
The powers are integral to the story, especially now that I’m understanding that Li Fang’s latent powers awakening will play a significant role in the prophecy, but all I really see is explosions and wind. It’s this inchoate aspect that’s keeping the volumes from scoring higher.
I think my confusion rests in the fact that it’s hard to distinguish what someone’s power is versus what techniques they’ve developed. Na Sha is all about binding people with cloth and so far, she’s the only one I’ve seen do it, so I’m fine with assigning that as one of her techniques. She also sent electricity coursing through someone. For that as well, she’s the only one I’ve seen do it. However, I’m not sure what it is. Initially I thought the cloth thing was her power, but now I realize that I made that assumption because, up to that point, Tuo Ren was the only one to completely incant the spell to send the rebels back–on the page, that is. It wasn’t until this volume that someone other than Tuo Ren said it. So this also negates my assumption about the evil/pure, light/dark aspect of his power. Well, not entirely, there’s still a chance that Tuo Ren’s power is related to light vs. dark, but I can’t base that fully on the incantation to send people back, because Na Sha says pretty much the same thing when she uses the binding while she’s sending rebels back to Jusenkai. Also, they mentioned that some people may have two powers, so it’s hard to even play process of elimination to figure out which category a defensive or offensive action falls under.
Shun, Xiang Lin’s teacher and a rebel, uses a teleportation technique. When Li Fang’s latent powers begin to awaken, he exhibits the ability to block direct attacks. He also has the power/ability to exchange energy with anyone. Xiang Lin can make perfumes out of thin air. I don’t know what’s what.
Am I going to be able to survive the elusory shounen-ai between Hu Lei and Xiang Lin? The extra story about how they met and got together doesn’t help. And then there’s Tuo Ren getting jealous of Li Fang sharing his energy with others to the point that he loses control and nearly annihilates everyone and everything.
There was one other thing that soured me on this volume in particular. Ang, another soldier, was in love with Tuo Ren, but because of the way he is and her timidity when facing him, she never said anything to him about it. However, when she sees the relationship between Tuo Ren and Li Fang she gets upset and jealous and goes on about how Tuo Ren isn’t supposed to be gentle and how she wants him to be the cold and aloof guy. Just thinking that wasn’t enough for her, so she confronted Li Fang and told him to leave Tuo Ren alone and that he wasn’t a suitable partner and so on.
I’ve never liked these scenes. She shouldn’t exact her jealousy on Li Fang; it’s her own fault that she never approached Tuo Ren. One of the reasons she’s upset is because she wanted to be “the one” who could comfort and save the hostile loner and seeing that it was Li Fang who isn’t just as tragic and also isn’t a Senkaijin (so she assumes), just kills her. She’s looking for a relationship built on codependency, which is just wrong, Then she approaches Li Fang–the person with the least amount of control over the situation–and accosts him, telling that their partnership doesn’t make sense and that she’s not going to accept it. As if it’s even her right to have any say so or her place to forgive Li Fang in the event he becomes a burden. First, she’s disregarding their situation; they are soldiers, they have duties, and one of their duties is to be partnered with someone that the imperial guard approves of. Second, she’s also dismissing Tuo Ren’s own instrumentality in the partnership. Essentially, she’s saying that Feng Yu doesn’t know what he’s doing and Tuo Ren is misguided, being taken advantage of, and that he’s a poor judge of character who can’t decide for himself what he wants. The only thing that saves this part is that it ends with Tuo Ren declaring to Ang and the others that he chose Li Fang (and that he’s madly in love with him and would even die for him–basically).
replied: Unlike G-Defend, which is BL, neither Asterisk nor this series are. Her latest series, Moon Trick, is the same – she calls it “friendship fantasy”. I like it, but tbh I’d prefer it if it was 100% BL.
“Friendship Fantasy?” It was hard to stop laughing when I read that. I suppose she’s free to categorize her work anyway she likes, but if this doesn’t read like shounen-ai, then I don’t know what does.
ylva-li replied: Well, in G Defend there’s a crossover with JH and it’s made clear that while Ishikawa and Iwase from G Defend are a couple, the characters from JH aren’t (yet). It might have to do with the magazine – G defend is still being printed, but Silver Diamond for example also isn’t BL, according to Sugiura Shiho. (She said it was fine to think of it as BL though).
I considered that, but Ichiraci serialized a number of titles that are considered shounen-ai and many by mangaka who are primarily known for their shounen-ai and yaoi–Fujomi Karen and Abe Miyuki, for example. It could be that at the time of serialization, there was was a vacancy to fill on the shoujo roster, so she maintained that it wasn’t BL. Even if you call a cat a dog, it’s still a cat. JH has all the markings of shounen-ai and that’s how most of the people that I know who’ve read it see it. I do hope it doesn’t bother her that it is that way, but I’m sure she understand why. Whatever the reason or the genre, it’s not stopping me from enjoying it, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. On the other hand, if it wasn’t considered shounen-ai by most, I never would have started reading it.
And I love your optimism: yet
ylva-li replied: Well, the question is by whom are they considered BL – the (Western) fans? I mean, not that it matters in the end, except that I think people maybe disappointed because there isn’t the typical release for all those feelings. Considering all her latest works apart from G Defend AREN’T BL (and even G Defend is so tame it sometimes makes me long for some R-18 doujinshi) I guess it’s just what she likes to write. On the other hand, I doubt she is unaware of the possible interpretations – someone who writes/draws something like this honestly doesn’t think of how it can be read. But like I said, I don’t think it really matters what the mangaka calls it – in Germany, Silver Diamond was even marketed as BL. I just think that some people may be disappointed if they go in with the wrong expectations. IIRC, there is one m/m couple in JH that is more than just hinted at. And the “yet” was not to mean that anything is going to happen in the text, just in the reader’s imagination ^^